Novak Djokovic has saved two match points to claim a fifth Wimbledon singles crown with a titanic, nerve-shredding five-set triumph over eight-times champion Roger Federer.
In a captivating, history-making four-hour, 57-minute final of wildly fluctuating fortunes, Djokovic denied Federer 7-6 (7-5) 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 12-10 (7-3) to retain the title he won last year and add to the trophies he also landed at the All England Club in 2011, 2014 and 2015.
The epic encounter was the longest title decider in the championships' 152-year history, surpassing Rafael Nadal's similarly dramatic four-hour, 46-minute win over Federer in 2008.
Following a rule change introduced only this year, Sunday's tension-filled final set - which stretched more than two hours alone - was the first ever decided in a tiebreaker after games were locked at 12-all.
"Congratulations, man, that was crazy," Federer said after Djokovic became the first player to win a Wimbledon men's singles final after saving championship points since Bob Falkenburg in 1948.
"I'll try to forget," Federer said after blowing his serve from 40-15 up at 8-7 in the tension-filled final set.
Djokovic's 16th grand slam title vaulted the Serbian superstar to within four of Federer's record 20 and two behind Rafael Nadal's 18.
After winning four of the past five slams, few would back against the 32-year-old from reeling in Federer's benchmark haul as the battle for greatest of all time status intensifies.
For now, Djokovic can savour emulating the five-time Wimbledon feats of legendary Swede Bjorn Borg (1976-80) and Englishman Laurie Doherty (1902-1906) in the most extraordinary fashion.
"This was if not the most exciting and most thrilling final I was ever part of, then definitely top two or three against one of the greatest of all time," said the jubilant world No.1.
"He inspires me for sure. Unfortunately in these kind of matches one of the players have to lose.
"It's quite unreal to be down two match points and come back and win."
Three weeks shy of his 38th birthday, Federer had been bidding to become the oldest grand slam singles champion in 51 years of professional tennis.
Alas, it all ended in heartbreak for the veteran Swiss, who lost to Djokovic for the third time at grand slam level after holding match points.
He endured the same devastating fate in the 2010 and 2011 US Open semi-finals.
Federer also won more points and more games, conjured more break points and delivered almost three times as many aces as the Serb.
But it was Djokovic who celebrated by eating the famous centre-court grass following a relentless counter-punching performance.
"Oh well, I hope I give some other people a chance to believe at 37 it's not over yet," Federer said.
"No, it's all good. I couldn't give any more. I gave it my all and I still feel alright. I still stand and so it's good and I wish the same for all the other 37-year-olds."
Federer's four children were in his courtside box for the presentation as the Swiss collected a fourth runners-up trophy.
"They won't be excited with a plate," he said. "They'd rather take that golden thing.
"But it's nice to see them. We had a great week here and I love them and it's back to (being) dad and husband. It's all good."
Federer will forever rue also blowing the first and third sets in tiebreakers having dominated Djokovic for much of the match with some breathtaking attacking tennis.
But it was Djokovic who was clutch when it mattered most.
Australian Associated Press